Rediscovering Wonder

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Job 12: 7-10…”But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

The context of that scripture lifted for this topic is that Job is in the midst of an intense debate. Earlier he addressed his opponent hotly and mockingly exclaiming…”Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!” But then he does something wiser and more intelligent than all the flowery intellectualism, theology and grand thinkers could ever bring themselves down to do – He says, (paraphrasing) “Ask the animals. The Birds…the fish. The earth. They know the truth. I’m but a laughingstock among you and I know that, but I, too, have a brain, and I’m not inferior to you. I called on God and he answered.”

Whenever it comes that I’m called upon to be brotherly and helpful to another that is troubled and seeking, the first thing I do is point them at nature. Every single time. I want them to rediscover wonder. Doing so points them right at God, whom of course is the solution…not me. Remember as a child that feeling a deep sense of wonder was a regular occurrence? We took it for granted because for a child everything is new. We’re immersed in wonder. It’s certainly not difficult to get a small child to “buy into” the idea of a God. They already know. But time moves and the wonder fades until it eventually only comes in moments. For some, it disappears completely as they sink into deep cynicism and bitterness. They speak grand thoughts and ideas from their mind and pat themselves on the back at how wonderful and smart they are, but their hearts are so far from God that on the inside is nothing but fear and often despair.

Wonder. How do we get it back? I don’t know how to answer that question for anyone else, but I like to believe we are all filled with the same capabilities if we only dig around inside to find them. One of God’s greatest gifts to me was giving me a sense of wonder that is easily accessible. At age 50 I still get awed by the sight of a snowflake falling. The colors of Autumn. Heck, I’ve even marveled at fire ant mounds in my front yard, and I detest those painful beasts greatly. Nature. My wonder comes alive and I instantly feel the realness of his presence. My worldly worries melt away in that presence. In the gospels, Jesus is often going off alone retreating into the mountains or some reclusive area. We don’t really know what he was doing other than of course praying, so there is plenty of room to speculate. I like to think he was following the same instinct inside his human body that you and I also have. Go to where the Father is more easily felt.

So for me, I often go off alone in that manner. At least once a season. My winter version is less than two weeks away. My soul is jumping for joy like John in the womb was when Mary entered the room. That’s the pure anticipation I feel. It’s not easy to do. The world sets itself up so that there are seemingly endless reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t take the time to feel wonder. It blocks us from God’s presence. It redirects us. “Don’t go there…go here instead! What happens here stays here! Going there is boring and stupid. Come over here where all the people are.”

Rediscover your wonder. When I was around 5-8 years old, I would often spend my entire Saturday afternoons in the vast woods behind my Grandparents house. It was a wonderland of awe back in those days. Big flowing creek, thick woods, fallen leaves, and animals of all kinds. I never felt a fear that I was too far away. I never felt alone. I never felt threatened by my surroundings. What I felt was…at home. I felt wonder. And though I didn’t know then, I truly wasn’t alone. Jesus was right there with me. Digging for crawdads in the creek just like I was. Smiling.

Think about the things that once made you feel that way. Try to remember that joy. It’s your first step towards the desired peace you’re chasing. The picture I used in this post was taken last April (2016) in the mountains around Park City, Utah. That’s my wife after taking a big spill off her snowmobile. We were having a blast at around 10,000 feet elevation flying around in endless snow, and she suddenly toppled over. Look at her face. She’s not crying. That’s the face of joyful wonder. Find whatever it is that makes you feel like that…and you’ll start getting along with God a whole lot better. Guaranteed.

 

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

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